Here are some common, completely useless titles we might want to clean up:

I'm sure plenty of these could have meaningful titles, as is, no one is ever going to find the solution to these in a search.

  • 1
    This one is better, exact match stackoverflow.com/… – genesis Sep 2 '11 at 16:55
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    You might want to add title: to get more precise results. – hammar Sep 2 '11 at 16:58
  • Done and done, searches now have double-quotes and "title:" – nwellcome Sep 2 '11 at 17:06
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    I support this idea, as long as I don't have to do anything. I think these need to be cleaned up with a flamethrower. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Sep 2 '11 at 17:22
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    Just testing the waters, but. . .what if Stack Overflow did not allow people to post questions with identical titles? In other words, would people support the idea of enforcing title uniqueness? Has this been asked before? – Chris Frederick Sep 2 '11 at 17:33
  • Does editing just the title still bump the question? – shanethehat Sep 2 '11 at 17:47
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    @shane it does. No way around it (by design) – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Sep 2 '11 at 17:57
  • @Eat - I did not know editing titles bumped questions, what motivated that design idea? – nwellcome Sep 2 '11 at 17:59
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    @nwellcome it's a fairly frequent feature request but it gets frequently rejected. See e.g. Could we have the ability to mark a change as minor in questions or answers? – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Sep 2 '11 at 18:02
  • @Eat, oh for transparency, perfectly reasonable, carry on. – nwellcome Sep 2 '11 at 18:08
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    Don't worry about bumping questions on Stack Overflow. Really. SO has bigger problems. Unless you see big letters across the top of your screen spelling out TILT, bump away... – Shog9 Sep 2 '11 at 19:29
  • @Chris: actually, just two days ago. – Paŭlo Ebermann Sep 2 '11 at 19:29
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    I cleaned up a few. – Brian Sep 2 '11 at 20:25
  • I feel that this is too important a question not to be answered. Those who support cleaning up should give your take too!!! Don't hide. Let's DEBATE the pros and cons. – Question Overflow Oct 29 '11 at 15:12

I find this question similar to Why can't we use the word "problem" in titles?, regarding Stack Overflow's filtering of the word "problem" in a question's title. A similar strategy could be adopted by filtering phrases such as:

  • What is wrong -- as in "What is wrong with this code?"
  • Why doesn't this -- as in "Why doesn't this code work?"
  • Help me -- as in "Help me debug something."
  • What am I -- as in "What am I doing wrong with this?"

The likely reason why people ask such questions is because they have a problem and they do not know how to identify that problem. These questions are generally a request to troubleshoot a problem when the asker does not have any clue on where to start.

Notice how such phrases can be easily substituted with the word "problem". Since questions of troubleshooting nature are not explicitly banned, I don't see why bad titles should be rejected if the asker cannot come up with a more helpful question as long as the question is properly tagged.

I would suggest such filtering mechanism to serve as a helpful reminder instead. "You may like to come up with a more meaningful title, if possible."

Back to the question, "Anyone want to clean up some bad titles?". I would suggest we leave it as it is. In most cases, if you know how to formulate your question, perhaps you are already one or two steps closer to your answer.

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    While it may be true that there are (semi-valid) reasons for questions being posted with not-particularly-descriptive titles, that has no bearing on this editing effort. The second part of SO's purpose, after immediately helping the asker of a question, is to create an archive of programming problems and solutions, for future readers. Editing question titles to clearly describe the subject of their posts only furthers that end. No one's talking here about chastising the posters of these questions, just making them more useful for others. – jscs Oct 28 '11 at 6:33
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    @ Ἰησοῦς Caswell: thanks for giving your views. But wouldn't it be odd to edit just the title of a question without making a corresponding effort to change the content as well as the answers to the question so that they are still relevant to the title? I do agree with the need of proper indexing such as tagging so that answers to such question do not go to waste. But there could be people who are equally clueless, having the same question in mind "what is wrong with this code?" – Question Overflow Oct 28 '11 at 7:33
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    The people who wonder "What's wrong with my code?" aren't going to be helped by a question on SO with that title, because they won't be able to find it or know whether it's relevant to their specific problem. A title like "Custom object unmarshalling incorrectly" is a million times more helpful to everyone, including the original asker, than "Why isn't this working". – jscs Oct 28 '11 at 7:43
  • @ Ἰησοῦς Caswell: Wouldn't tagging the question under "custom-objects" done a similar job? And how much more helpful is "Custom object unmarshalling incorrectly" going to be? – Question Overflow Oct 28 '11 at 8:15

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